Leviticus 11:1
And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
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(1) And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron.—Lest the rebuke which Moses publicly administered to the priests (see Leviticus 10:16) should diminish their influence with the people, whom they had to teach the laws of clean and unclean things (see Leviticus 10:10-11) laid down in the following chapters, the Lord here honours Aaron, as well as Moses, by making this communication to them conjointly. Besides, Aaron as minister was as much concerned in these laws as Moses the legislator. Hence, when a question of defilement had afterwards to be decided, it was brought for judgment before Moses and Aaron conjointly. (See Numbers 9:6.)

Leviticus 11:1. The Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron — This charge is given to them jointly; to the one, as chief governor, and to the other, as high-priest; both being greatly concerned in the execution of it. The priest was to direct the people about the things forbidden or allowed, and the magistrate was to see the direction followed.

11:1-47 What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
]Yahweh speaks to Moses and Aaron conjointly. (Compare Leviticus 13:1; Leviticus 15:1.) The high priest, in regard to the legal purifications, is treated as co-ordinate with the legislator. CHAPTER 11

Le 11:1-47. Beasts That May and May Not Be Eaten.

1, 2. the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron—These laws, being addressed to both the civil and ecclesiastical rulers in Israel, may serve to indicate the twofold view that is to be taken of them. Undoubtedly the first and strongest reason for instituting a distinction among meats was to discourage the Israelites from spreading into other countries, and from general intercourse with the world—to prevent them acquiring familiarity with the inhabitants of the countries bordering on Canaan, so as to fall into their idolatries or be contaminated with their vices: in short, to keep them a distinct and peculiar people. To this purpose, no difference of creed, no system of polity, no diversity of language or manner, was so subservient as a distinction of meats founded on religion; and hence the Jews, who were taught by education to abhor many articles of food freely partaken of by other people, never, even during periods of great degeneracy, could amalgamate with the nations among which they were dispersed. But although this was the principal foundation of these laws, dietetic reasons also had weight; for there is no doubt that the flesh of many of the animals here ranked as unclean, is everywhere, but especially in warm climates, less wholesome and adapted for food than those which were allowed to be eaten. These laws, therefore, being subservient to sanitary as well as religious ends, were addressed both to Moses and Aaron.From the laws concerning the priests, he now comes to those which belong to all the people.

Beasts clean and unclean, Leviticus 11:1-8. Of fishes, Leviticus 11:9-12. Of fowls and creeping things, Leviticus 11:13-23. In touching of a dead carcass, Leviticus 11:24-28. Other creatures unclean, Leviticus 11:29-43. They are exhorted to purity and holiness from the nature of God, and his goodness to them in taking them to be his people, Leviticus 11:44,45. The whole repeated, Leviticus 11:46,47.

The Lord spake to both Moses and Aaron, because the cognizance of the following matters belonged to both; the priest was to direct the people about the things forbidden or allowed where any doubt or difficulty arose, and the magistrate was to see the direction here given followed.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, and unto Aaron,.... The one being the chief magistrate, and the other the high priest, and both concerned to see the following laws put into execution; according to Jarchi, the Lord spoke to Moses that he might speak to Aaron; but being now in office, and one part of his office being to distinguish between clean and unclean, the following discourse is directed equally to him as to Moses:

saying unto them; as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
Ch. Leviticus 11:1-23 [51]. The Distinction between Clean and Unclean Food

[51] For the sources from which this ch. comes, and its relation from a critical point of view to Deuteronomy 14:3 ff. see App. I (c), pp. 162 f.

One principle underlying this distinction appears to have been that animals which were recognised as in any way objects of worship by heathen neighbours, or even supposed by them to be connected with unseen supernatural beings, were to be considered unclean. See Bertholet in KHC., introd. note to this ch. But in other cases the prohibition probably rested on the animal’s repulsive appearance or uncleanly habits, or on sanitary or totemistic grounds. See Driver, Deut. p. 164, and Rob.-Sm. OTJC.2 p. 366.

A list of animals which may and may not be eaten is given in Deuteronomy 14:3-20; it has close verbal affinity with Leviticus 11:2-21 of this ch. The two passages are placed side by side in Driver (ICC.) Deut. P. 157 f.

Both lists are divided into classes:

(a) Beasts Leviticus 11:2-8. Cp. Deuteronomy 14:3-8Deut. enumerates three domestic, and seven wild animals, as clean beasts which may be eaten. Lev. does not mention the clean beasts, but both give their two distinguishing marks—‘Whatsoever parteth the hoof … and cheweth the cud,’ and specify the same four beasts which have not both of these marks as unclean. Lev. is more diffuse, but employs the same expressions as Deut.

(b) Fishes Leviticus 11:9-12. Cp. Deuteronomy 14:9-10The same criterion of cleanness, having ‘scales and fins,’ is given both in Lev. and Deut., but Lev. is more diffuse, and introduces a word (Heb. shéḳeẓ) detestation, used frequently in this ch., also in Leviticus 7:21, and Isaiah 66:17; Ezekiel 8:10. Another and commoner form (shiḳḳuẓ) occurs in Deuteronomy 29:16. No fish is mentioned by name, and the distinction between clean and unclean fishes in particular cases was determined by the Jewish rabbis.

(c) Birds Leviticus 11:13-19. Cp. Deuteronomy 14:11-18Deut. begins with ‘Of all clean birds ye may eat’ (Leviticus 11:11), but does not give a list like that of clean beasts. The forbidden birds are almost identical in both.

(d) Winged swarming things Leviticus 11:20-23. Cp. Deuteronomy 14:19-20Lev. adds ‘that go upon all four’ (Leviticus 11:20), and in Leviticus 11:21-22 gives a list of winged swarming things that may be eaten (those that ‘leap’), repeating in Leviticus 11:23 the prohibition of Leviticus 11:20. Deut. concludes the list with ‘of all clean fowls (the same Heb. word as for ‘winged things’) ye may eat’ (Leviticus 14:20), but gives no list.

Verse 1. - The Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron. Aaron, having now been consecrated high priest, is joined with Moses as the recipient of the laws on cleanness and uncleanness in Leviticus 11:1; Leviticus 13:1; Leviticus 14:33; Leviticus 15:1. His name is not mentioned in Leviticus 12:1; Leviticus 14:1; Leviticus 17:1; Leviticus 18:1; Leviticus 19:1; Leviticus 20:1; Leviticus 21:1, 16; Leviticus 22:1, 17, 26. Probably there is no signification in these omissions. Leviticus 11:1The laws which follow were given to Moses and Aaron (Leviticus 11:1; Leviticus 13:1; Leviticus 15:1), as Aaron had been sanctified through the anointing to expiate the sins and uncleannesses of the children of Israel.
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